The Curse of Enthusiasm: William Lovell and Modern Violence

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The essay reads Ludwig Tieck's novel William Lovell (1795-1796) against the background of eighteenth-century faculty psychology in order to make a case for the existence of "male hysteria" around 1800. This is a broad personality dilemma with specific behavioral manifestations, and with parallels to contemporary conditions such as "melancholy" or "enthusiasm", with its subset of "hysteria". The combination of William Lovell's hysterical psychophysical "type" and his perceived victimization at the hands of others -- lovers, friends, brothers, fathers, and secret societies -- proves deadly and puts a very modern from of violence on display. At the same time, uncanny repetitions of previously repressed, frightening phenomena, provides a model for living with and through modern violence. It also illuminates the symptoms endured by individuals in a culture collectively vicitimized, as it were, by modernity as a grand conspiracy.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationContemplating Violence
Subtitle of host publicationCritical Studies in Modern German Culture
EditorsStefani Engelstein, Carl Niekerk
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherBrill | Rodopi
Number of pages24
StatePublished - 2011

Publication series

NameAmsterdamer Beiträge zur neueren Germanistik


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